How to grow Peas

Peas are definitely a green wheelbarrow veg plant as they are easy to grow, even from seed. Peas and beans germinate easily and quickly from seed, usually within 5-7 days of sowing. To grow from seed germinate into a root trainer or toilet roll holder to allow for a long root run. Put one or two seeds per container and place in propagator or cover to keep warm and to prevent drying out during the germination.

When to Sow Peas

Peas can be  germinated from March onwards and planted outside as they are surprisingly tolerant of frost.  Depending on where in the country you are gardening, Peas will tolerate temperatures down to around -2, but are not happy with prolonged frost or snow. In milder parts of the country plant outside in March, in other areas under glass for planting outside in April or May.

Plant or sow about 10-15cms apart in rows which are spaced out. If planted too close together, it can aggregate mildew, which Peas are prone to later in the season. Plants which are dry are more prone, so water well and planting further apart helps the air circulation.

Peas don't like their roots being disturbed and one advantage of sowing into toilet roll holders as opposed to root trainers is that with toilet roll holders you can leave them in situ or peel away carefully, causing minimum disturbance to the roots. Keep compost moist and the Peas should germinate easily.

If germinated under glass, once the seedlings are about 15cms high, you need to harden off before planting out. It's too much of a shock to the plant to go from the protected environment of a greenhouse straight outside. Place the tray of plants outside on milder days bringing inside at night. Leave out for longer periods until the plants are outside all the time. 

Peas are an ideal crop for children to grow. They germinate easily, grow quickly and can be picked and eaten straight from the pod. 

In the same way as Lathyrus odoratus, the Sweet Pea, Peas put out many tendrils and if you have time, it is a good idea to thin these out a bit otherwise, towards the end of the growing season, the peas can be a bit of a tangle which reduces growth and cropping. Apart from this, Peas don't need any real maintenance except to improve the crop ensure the crop does not run short of water once the flowers appear. It's always a good idea if buying seed or plants to select those with RHS merit award, which is an indication of best performance.

There are first early, and second early, varieties of peas designed to fruit at different times.

What can go wrong?

Not much goes wrong when growing peas. 

 Although there are several diseases which can strike Peas, they are usually trouble free.

If, after sowing germination fails, it is usually rodents eating the Pea seed.

The main thing to watch is rainfall and dry spells. Edible peas just like the ornamental sweet pea, do not do well if conditions and the soil are very dry. It will much reduce the volume of the crop and make the peas more prone to mildew. To ameliorate this add organic matter to the soil, and a mulch  maybe helpful. You may have to water during a dry spell. This is especially so after flowering when the pods are fattening up.

The Best type of supports for Peas

Peas, whether you are growing conventional type, sugar snap or the mange tout varieties, need to climb and scramble up netting rather than canes, and whilst you can buy special nets for peas any sort of netting is Ok and can be re cycled each year. Because they climb using tendrils, it is important to get a net or twigs in place before they grow. There are short, dwarf and tall varieties of peas which determine the type of support, pea sticks and stakes for the short varieties, for the tall ones a net or trellis will be needed.

You do not need to buy netting, peas will scramble up twigs and sticks if you prefer to use natural off cuts and prunings, as long as they are tall enough for the Pea variety.

Peas need support and depending on size, the dwarf variety will make do with pea sticks but taller varieties will require a net/tall twigs to scramble up. Peas have tendrils whereas Runner and French Beans climb and wind around supports, tendrils need a net to climb up.

Suggest varieties of Peas to grow

Good varieties to grow are often those with the RHS garden merit award such as 'Kelvedon Wonder' 'Balmoral'  Sugar Snap ' Sugar Ann' 'Cascadia' 

Some peas also have attractive coloured pods and flowers, illustrated above is Heritage Pea Blauwschokker which tastes as good as it looks.

Peas are an easy to grow rewarding crop, almost fool proof, and along with the bean family such as Broad and Runner beans. 

Last updated 16.11.2021